Perhaps one of the most hysterical – as in both overwrought and hilarious – moments in America’s crazy-train journey to November happened on Monday.
Fifty self-important so-called stewards of national security, Republicans all, released a letter full of fervor and fatalism warning that the nominee of their party “From a foreign policy perspective … is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief.”
They went on to say that Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president, has difficulty distinguishing between truth and falsehood, has no self control, acts impetuously, can’t take criticism, doesn’t listen to views other than his own, is ignorant of basic facts of contemporary international politics and has no interest in educating himself, and “has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior.”
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In short, said the signatories, a great many of whom worked in the White House of President George W. Bush, “We are convinced that in the Oval Office, [Trump] would be the most reckless president in American history.”
That was the overwrought part. Here’s what was so hilarious.
Most of those Frenzied Fifty were part of the crowd who brought us and/or presided over the unnecessary, unwinnable and disastrous Iraq War – the third-longest conflict in U.S. history. They and their oh-so-thoughtful leader are responsible for the wounding and killing of more than 36,000 patriots in uniform, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians, the ratcheting up of mayhem in the Mideast, the destruction of all the global good will America had after 9/11 and the sullying of the country’s good name.
Trump may have all the deficiencies that the letter lists, and he is certainly unschooled in foreign affairs. But he’s not such a dunce that he can’t recognize when the insider pot is calling the outsider kettle black.
“The names on this letter are the ones the American people should look to for answers on why the world is a mess,” Trump said in a statement, “and we thank them for coming forward so everyone in the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place.”
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The letter was signed by a gaggle of big guns from the foreign policy and national security establishment, including former Homeland Security Secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff; former CIA Director Michael Hayden; former Trade Representative Carla Hills; and former Trade Representative and Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick.
It also includes neocons who led the country into the morass of Iraq such as Eliot Cohen, an advisor to Bush’s secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and a fierce advocate for regime change.
But neocons or not, how well served has the country been since World War II by all the academics with fancy doctorates, all the think-tank brainiacs and all the professional public officials who make up the U.S foreign policy establishment?
“The Best and the Brightest” ensnared us in Vietnam and cost America more than 60,000 lives. Hell no, Lyndon Johnson, who spent almost his entire adult life in the U.S. Senate, wasn’t reckless.
And Richard Nixon, internationalist and global thinker, and his foreign policy pillar, “Dr.” Henry Kissinger, weren’t reckless when they carpet-bombed Cambodia and sowed the seeds of Pol Pot’s revolution, which left an estimated 1 million to 3 million dead.
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But Trump on his wackiest day would have to go pretty far off the rails to match the recklessness of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, who months before 9/11 – if you believe his first treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill – was plotting an incursion into Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Perhaps the next missive to the public from elite members of the foreign policy establishment might be a brief explanation of why America should trust their judgment.